Hebden | Lowe | Gornall | Robinsons | George Gooderham

The Lowe name.

This branch of the Lowe family goes back from a civil servant with direct connections to the cotton industry in Lancashire, through Rhode Island in America, back in the cotton trade of England in the period of 1915-1830s & back to stone masons working in the quarries in Edgeworth near Bolton.

At least four generations were in the cotton industry. From the huge growth of a town like Bolton to the beginning of the end after World War One.

By 1912 the cotton industry in Britain was at its peak producing eight billion yards of cloth, but the outbreak of World War One spelt disaster for textiles in the North West. During the war, cotton could no longer be exported to the foreign markets and those countries, particularly Japan, set up their own factories. Not only were these countries producing their own cloth, they were doing it more cheaply than Britain. By 1933 Japan had introduced 24 hour cotton production and became the world's largest cotton manufacturer. The demand for British cotton slumped and mill owners put cotton workers on short time, or closed the mills altogether. In-between the wars, 345,000 workers left the industry and 800 mills closed.

It's history goes from King Edward VII & the birth of Boy Scouts, back through Pat Garrett & "Billy the Kid" and back to King George III & Mozart!



My father, Arthur was born in 1907 at 41 Follywell St. Blackburn, the eldest of the five children of Arthur Geoffrey & Naomi (nee Hartley). Geoffrey was born in 1910. From the American details, it looks like Ernest was born in 1912 & Naomi in 1915 whilst they were in America.  Annie will have been born on their return to Blackburn.

In 1907, Edward VII was on the throne, Baden Powell (the founder of the Boy Scouts & "Hero of Mafeking" as he was called), held the first Scout camp on Brownsea Island & the passenger ship Lusitania was launched. It met a disastrous end as a casualty of the First World War when she was torpedoed by the German submarine, U-20, on May 7, 1915. (The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany. It is often considered by historians to be the second most famous civilian passenger liner disaster after the Titanic). It was only a year later, during the 1st. World War that Arthur was travelling back to England across that very ocean aged 8 with his mother & siblings.

He was born the same year as Laurence Olivier, John Wayne & Kathryn Hepburn. It was the same year Rudyard Kipling got his Nobel prize.

There is no record of the Lowes on the English 1911 census as they all went to America! He went there on the 7th. February 1911, (the same year his future wife was born) with his mother & brother Geoffrey, unaccompanied as Arthur Geoffrey had gone ahead to stay with his brother in law Thomas Seddon. Sailing from Liverpool to Boston on a ship called the Ivernia. It is believed they lived in Pawtucket, North Providence, Rhode Island, probably near all the people they knew. That's  36 miles from Boston. Was it cheaper than going via New York as they certainly went 3rd class? His grandfather, Jack, went to America first, in 1908 and Arthur Geoffrey went ahead of the family around 1910. The family returned to Blackburn in February of 1916. Arthur said he remembered Houdini touring England. As he started a European tour in 1915, that could well be so.

Arthur senior carried on working in the cotton trade in Blackburn and Arthur junior joined about 14. He had already left cotton, to go to America, because the cotton trade was a very unsure way to earn a living. I think he realised he needed to move to another place with employment, nevertheless later on he moved to Bedford because of the economic situation in Lancashire!

Arthur & Florence were married in 1935. As some of the Lowe family had moved to Bedford for more work, so Arthur & Florence followed. He got work as a labourer in brickworks in Marston Mortaine. I was born in 1938 at his address at 102 Mile Rd. Bedford. He became a Civil servant about late 1939 to early 1940 and he retired with the pension & security he needed, in 1972. Their move to Manchester is a little uncertain, but spring 1940 is a best guess. Nine years later, to the day, Florence gave birth to Irene Janet in 9 Greame St. Moss Side Manchester.

Arthur worked in the Ministry of Supply in Harrogate, Liverpool & Sale, Manchester, over those years. A Lowe trait seemed to be about seriousness, very little humour & you kept your children in the dark. Right up to the end, Arthur managed to speak to me like I was 13 years old & just slightly stupid. I don't think he picked me out, I think he treated everyone the same.

To see more about my era in these places, look here.

Florence died suddenly in 1995. Arthur died, like Florence, without warning in 2002, at the home he bought in Whalley Ave., Whalley Range, Manchester.



Arthur Geoffrey

Born in 1883 in Bolton. The only boy of four children to John (Jack) & Hannah, (nee Baxendale). There was Alice Maud Mary about 1873, Hannah circa 1875 & Bertha Victoria in 1878.

In 1883 Krakatoa erupted. It was witnessed by  the famous Tea Clipper Cutty Sark, being only 50 miles away. The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires begins service (Roselle, New Jersey, USA), it was built by Thomas Edison. Queen Victoria was on the throne & Gladstone was Prime Minister. In this year Robert Louis Stevenson is writing & in the American Old West, the self-described "Black Bart the Po-8" gets away with his last stagecoach robbery. America is so huge that the US and Canadian railroads institute five standard continental time zones, thus ending the confusion of thousands of local times.

As very young person, Arthurs was a cotton worker, his mother died on the day he brought home his first wage packet, which means he was working (probably part time and school) at aged 11. It was not until the Mundella Act of 1880 that education became compulsory for children under ten years of age.

He is in 7 Wrigley St, Blackburn, with his widowed father in 1901 as a cotton spinner.

He married Naomi after long distance courting, by bicycling from Blackburn to Knaresborough. (Cycling clubs were hugely popular around this time). They were married in December 1906. At his son Arthur's birth he was a cotton Spinner (in 1907).
He went to American, without his family, in 1910 on the Ivernia following in the footsteps of his father Jack. In 1910, he is living with his brother-in-law Thomas Seddon Jnr (also working in a cotton mill) in 25 Fenner St, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (whether he lived there when Arthur arrived, I can't prove). On the passenger list, Arthur G. claims to have been to been to the USA before in 1904! Thats nothing I heard of in the family conversations.

At 26, he is working, as a mule spinner in a cotton mill. Three miles from where he is living, is the famous Slater Mill on Roosevelt Avenue, now an historic site. Slater Mill in Pawtucket was the first commercially successful cotton-spinning mill, with a fully mechanized power system, in America. There is no evidence that is where is was actually employed. His wife followed in February 1911 & was on the same ship Ivernia, with two children, Arthur & Geoffrey. According to the 1910 American census, his year of immigration was 1904! I doubt that is correct as that's before he was married! All the other facts fit so I know I have the right man. 

I had struggled to established where they lived or what happened in America or their exact timings. A lot more research was needed. But the break through came when my sister was fairly sure it was Pawtucket, North Providence Rhode Island, that he lived. Letters from relations in America provided the other clues that set me on the right track. With the help of Google earth, 1904 maps & modern maps, I was able to get the locations in America. In 1910, He was round the corner from his father John, who lived in Weedon St..

He returned around 1915. It was said because he felt guilty about being away from Britain at the outbreak of World War One. Sis found that Naomi came back on the ship "New York" on 6th. February 1916 with all her children in 3rd class. The return address given is 7 Garnett St. Blackburn. The family was living at 96 Randle St. Blackburn on 21/12/1920. The amazing thing is we can't find Arthur Geoffrey's travel dates at all.
He moved from Blackburn to 122 Mile Rd Bedford, taking up work as a foundry labourer. So far as I knew, Granddad was Bedford. He always seemed serious, critical & lacked humour. Maybe he just felt Bedford wasn't quite up to Pawtucket standards & after the slump in cotton & two world wars, life had given him a raw deal.

He died in Bedford in 1962.



Born in 1850 in Bolton. One of 13 children. They list as: Margaret Ann 1841-1846, Nancy 1843-1844, Nancy 1844, Betty (or Betsy) 1846, Ann, c. 1847, Alice c. 1847, John 1850, Mary c. 1851, Alice 1853, Emilia 1855, David 1858-1860, David 1860, Sarah J 1863, Louisa 1866 & Margaret E 1868. They were all born in Bolton except Nancy, who was born in Turton nr Bolton.

1850 was in the reign of Queen Victoria. The Britannia Bridge, designed by George Stephenson, was opened to join Anglesey with the mainland across the Menai straits. Lord Alfred Tennyson was appointed as Poet Laureate. Born the same year as Pat Garrett, (the sheriff who killed "Billy the Kid") & Robert Louis Stevenson.

Historically part of Lancashire, Bolton rose to prominence during the 19th century as a mill town centred on textile manufacture and cotton spinning. As the textile industry grew so did Bolton. From a population of 24,195 in 1801 to 168,215 in 1901. At its zenith it was one of the largest and most productive centres of cotton manufacture in the world. The original Bolton Town Hall was opened on June 5th 1873 by HRH Prince Albert of Wales. Even a medal was struck. At 23 years old, this must have been one huge local event.

Census return for 1851 shows him at one year old with his family at  11 Stable Row, Bolton.

In 1871 he is in 236 Lever St. the Bradford ward in Bolton. He is 21 & a cotton Spinner. There are nine brothers & sister & his parents.

He married Hannah on 1st. April 1872 in Bolton. In-between this & the 1881 census, Custer had died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876) & the largest number of V.Cs ever awarded, in a single day, was at Rorkes Drift  against the Zulu nation in 1879. (eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded. Seven to the 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, one to the Army Medical Department, one to the Royal Engineers, one to the Commissariat and Transport Department and one to the Natal Native Contingent)

In 1881 he is in 15 Elgin St. Bolton. It says he is a Opre(?) cotton spinner. With him is Hannah, two brothers-in-laws who were a cotton piecer & spinner (William Bayley  & James Baxendale) & his nephew, Joseph Baxendale a ten year old scholar. The mystery is, where were his children? Alice lived to be an adult. In 1881, she would only be 8 years old. Was she staying at Grandmas that day or what?
He is in 7 Wrigley St. Blackburn by 1901, a widower living with four children, all in the cotton trade.

According to Arthur, my father, in England he was a jack of all trades, he ran a fish & chip shop on the corner of Ice St., Whalley Range, Blackburn. He is said to have crossed the Atlantic many times, as a sailor before the mast, ferrying horses & cattle.

He must have done a lot between 1901 (being a cotton spinner) & leaving about 1908. I needed to find out what he was doing for work in America to see if he was also in Cotton? It turns out that the mill he was working at, was in wool. Most American relations do not believe he had any more children, confirmed by the census return.
He arrived in America in 1908. His second marriage was to Louisa Lund who, it is said, he married in England (not traced yet).

We know he died in 1924 and is buried in a Riverside Cemetery. There is a Riverside cemetery in  Pawtucket, North Providence Rhode Island, unfortunately, there are many Riverside cemeteries across America!

Finding Jack in America was more difficult, than finding Arthur Geoffrey but luckily, through letters with names, dates & relationships I received from my sister & people in the USA, I have managed to place him!

I found an English couple called John & Louisa Lowe in 1920 census, on Providence, Rhode Island at 192 Venton St.. Unfortunately their ages were 12 years adrift on John & 7 on Louisa, they were making themselves a lot younger. (Because of the census returns in England, from him being a boy, I was fairly sure of his correct age). This guy said he came to America in 1908 & was an inspector in the machine shop, (they had a machine shop in the cotton mills) and they were running a boarding house. There was nothing to confirm it was the Jack & Louisa I needed to trace.

I checked the 1910 census and there they were again, only this time I had clues to prove it was them. They were at  360 Weedon St.. They had Jacks youngest sister & her husband staying with them and the Carron family, who are all on a photograph with Jack standing next to his sisters grave. What threw the whole thing out were the ages & timings. This time Jack is only 10 years younger & Louisa is 13 years younger. There was also a change in the year they said they came to America, he is now claiming they arrived in 1905. They also claim to be married for ten years, whereas Jack was a widow in the 1901 census. They were just round the corner from his son Arthur Geoffrey, who lived in Fenner St.

In 1910, he was a labourer in the woollen mill (note, not cotton) the rise to Inspector in ten years, into the machine shop, is not an unreasonable thing to assume. The 1910 census also confirmed that Louisa had no children, he was not out of work in 1909, and on both census returns, they rented both properties they lived in. By 1920 they had moved to Venton St, Providence, only just over 4 miles away. The best I can make out is Venton St. but the handwriting, old scanning & an unclear pen nib made it hard to establish. They'd gone, in ten years, from having kin to stay with them, to running their own "rooming house" that was large enough to have 15 paying guests. Neither of them seemed to have become naturalised America citizens by 1920. A picture in his later years indicates he may have had a stroke.

He died in 1924. On his American death notice, on Rhode Island, it was claimed he was 63, actually, he was 73! Louisa passed away in 1941.

Geoff Lowe from Australia came up with more information on the Lowe side. It was Joseph, the son of Arthur & Nancy that first went to America & he settled in Rhode Island. Was this where the family connection to this area was started? Thanks to Geoff, we got the hint that the family may well have chosen Pawtucket from those who went before them.



Jack's father was the one who came from the small village of Edgeworth outside Bolton, into the big town to start working in the cotton industry.

David was born in 1820 in Edgeworth to Arthur & Nancy (nee Gartside), one of eleven children. John 1802, Sally c. 1803-1807, Ann 1805, William 1808, Nancy 1810, Joseph 1812 (who went to America), Jethro 1814, Jesse c. 1817, Amelia 1817 & Ambrose 1822-1872.

1820 was the year King George IV came to the throne, that signified the end of the regency period. The last hanging drawing and quartering in Britain Cato Street conspirators for treason (only hanged and beheaded). The Beagle set off with Charles Darwin on board. David is born the same year as Anne Bronte & Florence Nightingale.

In 1841 he is living with his parents & family in Sharples Meadow, Edgeworth. He is already into the cotton industry at 21.

He married Mary Morris on 25/7/1841 at Bolton. On their marriage certificate, both marked with a X. He was a spinner.

In Bolton in the summer of 1848, an outbreak of cholera ran until the spring of 1849. 

In 1851 he is living on the western side of Bolton at 11 Stable Row, with four children, all aged 6 or under. He is a cotton spinner.

He had moved to the eastern area of Bolton in 1861 to 26 Bull Lane. He was with 9 children & a nephew Arthur J Morris aged one. He was still a cotton spinner as were all the adults. They classed their 9 year old daughter Mary as a house servant & the others as scholars.

He was in 236 Lever St. Bolton in 1871 still a cotton Spinner. All his children were in the trade even down to David at 10! Sarah & Margaret were still scholars! He must have believed in education for his youngest, especially as they were girls. There were 8 people bringing money into the home in that year.

He died in 1879, giving 30 or 40 years to the cotton trade in and around Bolton. It looks like he and his family "came home" to be buried. His grave is in Turton church yard along with Mary (who died in 1885), his children, Margaret Ann, Nancy, David & Louisa. Mary was still in Lever St. (No. 228) with her Daughters & Nephews in 1881. At the top of the grave stone is a hand with a finger pointing upwards, entwined in its fingers is a ribbon with the words "Meet me there", such was the certainty of religious belief then. In the next graves were members of his family, including his father, Arthur.



Due to a fire at St. Anne's Church, Turton, the records were destroyed, so the Lowe history stops with Arthur Low. (spelt without the "e" on his grave stone.)

He was born in 1771 & lived until 1844 when he died the same year as his wife Nancy (nee Gartside). They were married at Bolton parish church on 13th. September 1801 & were to have eleven children altogether, two of which were found by Geoff Lowe. Arthur's birth year was confirmed when looking for his children's christening, as he was baptised at the age of 42 years in 1813 at Turton church. He said he was born in Edgeworth & it appears he lived there all his 73 years. I still find it strange that Arthur wasn't baptised as a baby, there must have been a reason he felt he needed to get "done" at 44. There are many William Lows that could have been is father, but they baptised some children, why would they not baptise Arthur? Were his real parents not church connected (most unusual in that era) or of a different religious belief. Did HE elected to get or change his religion? (as he got several kids baptised on the same day, I feel we are being given a hint of a religious revelation). Did his folks move into the area where there were family connections? A job of a stone mason, is really just a labourer, did his father not have any trade that Arthur would have followed?

In 1771, King George the third was on the throne, Louis XV was King of France & Catherine the 2nd was Tsarina of Russia. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child genius touring Europe. (He had met Bach in London only six years previously), Captain James Cook's first voyage was ending & importantly for the folks of Lancashire, Richard Arkwright (inventor of the Spinning frame) opens the first cotton mill at Cromford in Derbyshire.

Arthur was born the same year as Sir Walter Scott & the poet Dorothy Wordsworth. By the time he was 12, the first, manned hot air balloons were invented in France & by the time he was 18, The French revolution had begun. The year before his marriage, the Napoleonic wars began.

In 1841 Arthur was a stone mason (this may have been the term to describe the men who cut the stone in the quarries) and John his son was a stone getter (did they do the heavy lifting & carting?). Four of his other children were in the cotton trade, plus a 4 year old Naomi with no indication who's child she is, Geoff claims she is the base child of Amelia. They lived at Sharples meadow, Edgeworth, Nr. Bolton. After walking through an estate in 1982, I came across the cottages of Sharples Meadow. That was our only glimpse of Arthur on the census return, before his death three years later.

On a map of 1844, it shows the cross roads in Edgeworth, in-between the northern road & the road which runs northwest is a set of fields & written across them is "The Lowe".


Links to genealogy

The Lancashire cotton industry

Hung, drawn & quartered (strong stomachs only please)

Bolton's history

Slater Mill, Pawtucket.

Rhode Island